Thursday, June 21, 2018
News Roundup

Years later, pain, scars of ugly divorce battle linger

In 2013, the Tampa Bay Times wrote about Terry Power, a retirement plan consultant whose runaway divorce took five years, four judges, six lawyers and more than $400,000 to resolve.

When the case was finally over, Power had declared bankruptcy, his two kids had been put through an ordeal and his ex-wife walked away with a quarter of the alimony he had offered her to settle when the divorce began.

Today, the five years Power spent in court continue to influence his life. Two weeks ago, he filed to run as a Republican for Florida House District 64, an area that includes northeast Pinellas County and northwest Tampa. Power, 60, said he made the decision recently after spending almost four years attempting to change family law in Florida and accomplishing little. He believes that legal fees should be capped and that alimony should be a formula.

"If one party under Florida law insists on turning the divorce into a nightmare, they can do it right now," he said in an interview at his company’s office in Safety Harbor. "You can be held hostage. And your whole life can be put on hold. That has to change."

Power said he’s managed to repay his debtors and rebuild the retirement planning business, which earned $250,000 the year before the divorce was filed. But his family, particularly his children, are still scarred by what unfolded between 2008, when his ex-wife, Murielle Fournier, filed for divorce, and 2013, when a three-day trial took place and a circuit court judge decided — as far as Power is concerned — in his favor.

Their daughter, Meghan Mikhail, now 27, said those years were the most difficult. "I was not a factor, because I was turning into an adult, and my brother, he was the entire factor. He was like a possession being passed back and forth."

Mikhail wanted to go to college, but the divorce consumed her parents. So she worked for AT&T and eventually took a job for five years in Nashville. Two years ago, she moved back to Oldsmar and works with her father as the company’s senior benefits administrator. She’s taking classes at St. Petersburg College, is divorced and has a 4-year-old daughter. She refused child support from her ex-husband, splitting all expenses. If anything, she said, her parents taught her a lot about what not to do in a divorce.

"We’re able to co-parent really well and communicate," she said. "Everything is very calm and peaceful, because I saw what it did to my father."

Mikhail’s 19-year-old brother, who was 10 when the divorce was filed, has struggled the most.

Power said his son moved out about a year ago, and he hasn’t spoken with him in eight or nine months.

"It’s not that we hate each other, but I’ve got rules," he said. "I can’t help but wonder how much of the tug-of-war that happened during the divorce, what impact that had on him."

Power acknowledged that family court brought out the worst in him. He said if he could get those five years back, he’d offer Fournier $65,000 a year for 15 years again in a heartbeat. "I tried to do the right thing, but the system was not going to let me out, because I had to feed all the hungry mouths that circle around the family law courts in Florida," he said.

He said he still can’t marry Dee Dee Trott, the woman he’s been dating for almost a decade, because under Florida law, Fournier would be able to go for a portion of Trott’s assets.

Fournier — and their son — declined to talk to the Times for this story. She recently moved back to the Tampa Bay area from Arkansas.

When I wrote about Power four years ago, I said that he didn’t seem like the kind of guy who would open up his car window and give a homeless man in need a dollar.

But recently, Power, a private pilot, joined the Hurricane Irma relief effort, flying 2 tons of supplies to Fort Myers and Key West. If he is elected to House District 64, he plans to donate his $29,697 salary to local charities. And he no longer calls his ex-wife a "psycho" or a "greedy b----." Now, he said: "I wish her well. I hope she moves on with her life."

Contact Leonora LaPeter Anton at [email protected] Follow
@WriterLeonora.

Comments
Plant City’s champion Al Berry, whose name shouted his passion, dead at 83

Plant City’s champion Al Berry, whose name shouted his passion, dead at 83

His name was Berry and berry was his passion — the strawberry that put his beloved Plant City on the map.Alfred "Al" Berry was born with the name, but he took on his role as chief promoter of Plant City through his four decades of work with the commu...
Updated: 19 minutes ago
Column: How the U.S. cornered the market for skilled immigrants

Column: How the U.S. cornered the market for skilled immigrants

Countries are constantly competing for the most talented workers and, according to the best available immigration statistics, the United States has been winning.The United States is home to just 4.4 percent of the world’s population, but in 2010, it ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
For once, scientists found good news about West Antarctica

For once, scientists found good news about West Antarctica

At least since 2014, the news has been dire: The West Antarctic ice sheet is losing ice, and its retreat may be unstoppable. It may be only a matter of time (granted, maybe a very long time) before it adds as much as 10 feet to global sea-level rise....
Updated: 1 hour ago
Deputies: Zephyrhills bank robbed, suspect flees on bicycle

Deputies: Zephyrhills bank robbed, suspect flees on bicycle

A Suntrust Bank in Zephyrhills was robbed early Thursday afternoon, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.At about 12:50 p.m., deputies said, the man walked into the bank at 34511 State Road 54 and presented a note demanding money, though he...
Updated: 1 hour ago
First lady’s ‘I don’t care’ jacket causes a stir

First lady’s ‘I don’t care’ jacket causes a stir

McALLEN, Texas (AP) — First lady Melania Trump boarded a flight to a facility housing migrant children separated from their parents wearing a jacket that read "I really don’t care, do u?"The green hooded spring military jacket has the words written g...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Saboteur or whistleblower? Battle between Elon Musk and former Tesla employee turns ugly, exposing internal rancor

Saboteur or whistleblower? Battle between Elon Musk and former Tesla employee turns ugly, exposing internal rancor

Hours after Tesla had sued its former employee on charges he had stolen company secrets, and days after chief Elon Musk had called him a saboteur, the Silicon Valley automaker made a startling claim. The company had received a call from a friend of t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Islanders hire Barry Trotz as coach fresh off winning Stanley Cup

Islanders hire Barry Trotz as coach fresh off winning Stanley Cup

DALLAS — The New York Islanders have hired Barry Trotz as their new head coach. President of hockey operations Lou Lamoriello announced the move Thursday at the NHL draft, two weeks after Trotz won the Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals and thr...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Armature Works developers sue Ulele and city of Tampa over use of nearby building

Armature Works developers sue Ulele and city of Tampa over use of nearby building

TAMPA — Two of the city’s hottest developers — the companies behind Ulele and the Armature Works — are heading to court over control of an old city building that sits between the hit eateries. Both want to redevelop the city&...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Man found dead in Hillsborough Bay had a big fan in the cat world

Man found dead in Hillsborough Bay had a big fan in the cat world

TAMPA — To his friends and neighbors at Tampa Baptist Manor, Norman Lester Porterfield was the man who fed and spoiled Lucky, the scruffy stray calico cat in the back yard. But the Tampa Police Department says he’s also the man they found dead in Hil...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Lightning’s Victor Hedman salutes survivors in Norris Trophy acceptance speech

Lightning’s Victor Hedman salutes survivors in Norris Trophy acceptance speech

The victims and survivors of three tragedies — the mass shootings in Las Vegas and at Parkland Stoneman Douglas High School, and the bus accident that killed 16 members of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team — were a big part of Wedne...
Updated: 3 hours ago